President Donald Trump said he will not let the Department of Defense stop funding Stars and Stripes, a newspaper that is subsidized by the Pentagon.
“The United States of America will NOT be cutting funding to @starsandstripes magazine under my watch,” Trump said in a post on Twitter. “It will continue to be a wonderful source of information to our Great Military!”
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper defended shifting money from the paper in February, telling reporters it was part of a defense-wide review aimed at finding at least $5 billion that officials could reallocate to put into modernization priorities like hypersonics.
“At the end of the day, that was not a priority that met the cut line. And so we trimmed that support for that—for Stars and Stripes, because we need to invest that money, as we did with many, many, many other programs, into higher-priority issues,” he said.
A phone call to the Pentagon on Saturday went unanswered and the voicemail wasn’t accepting messages.
Pushback to the proposed cuts to Stars and Stripes emerged from a number of quarters, including Congress.
A bipartisan group of 15 senators wrote in a letter to Esper this week that the paper “is an essential part of our nation’s freedom of the press that serves the very population charged with defending that freedom.”
The House-passed version of legislation containing defense funding for next year contains additional funding to keep operating Stars and Stripes and the Senate hasn’t released its defense appropriations bill, the lawmakers noted. The House version contained $15.5 million for the paper.
Stars and Stripes says the rest of its budget comes from advertising, subscriptions, and sales.
The paper describes itself as the U.S. military’s independent news source.
Lawmakers signing the letter included Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
Trump told reporters in Washington Friday that “nobody’s done more” for the military than him.
“I love those people. I’ve gotten them pay raises when they didn’t get anything near what I’ve been able to do. And I’ve rebuilt, $2.5 trillion, I’ve rebuilt the United States military. Now we’re including Space Force,” he said.
Trump also condemned anonymously-sourced reporting in The Atlantic magazine that he didn’t want to go to a military cemetery while in France in 2018.
The story has been widely rebutted by on-the-record sources, but has not been altered or retracted. The magazine didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Jeffrey Goldberg, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, said during an appearance on CNN on Friday that his sources didn’t want to go on the record because “they don’t want to inundated with angry tweets and all the rest.”